Dear Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchinson and all Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:
Tomorrow's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmation hearing for Chairman-nominee Julius Genachowski and the reconfirmation of Commissioner Robert McDowell is a vital moment for free speech and the First Amendment in this country.
Commissioner McDowell has been a stalwart champion of political free speech in his time on the FCC. He has been and remains a bulwark against a return of the Censorship Doctrine - also mis-known as the "Fairness" Doctrine. We know where he stands.
We know little or nothing of Mr. Genachowski's views on these critical issues. Tomorrow's hearing is the time to find out.
Which is why I have drafted the list of questions accompanying this memo. Asked of Mr. Genachowski, they will help ensure that we learn how he plans to wield the awesome regulatory powers that will be at his disposal should he be confirmed as Chairman of the FCC.
It isn't just the so-called "Fairness" Doctrine that threatens the First Amendment rights of broadcasters. FCC rules such as "localism," "media diversity" and a nebulous requirement to "serve the public interest" all can be abused in their enforcement to censor the radio airwaves.
Mr. Genachowski must be asked about all of these issues. It is imperative that you - and the American people - get answers to these questions.
If Mr. Genachowski cannot - or will not - be specific in his responses, and stand firmly behind the First Amendment, it is your duty to oppose his nomination.
The future of political free speech on the radio depends upon it.
L. Brent Bozell, III